Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Super Bowl in New Jersey

They’re going to play the Super Bowl in February of 2014 at the new Meadowlands stadium.

This should be a complete fiasco. February in New Jersey? I guarantee you there will be snow on the ground and it will be as cold as a witch’s tit. The only real question is will it be snowing that day.

Assuming I’m still alive and kicking then, I figure my chances of getting a ticket are pretty slim. We’ll have to compete for the host’s share with the Jet PSL ticket holders. Even if I manage to win a pair, I’m selling them unless the Giants are playing. I’m not crazy enough to sit in the Meadowlands on a February evening.

Oh yes kiddies, remember that the Super Bowl usually starts around 6 PM. Who are they going to have for the half-time show? Waloo and the Igloos?

On the positive side, perhaps this is the first step in returning to playing the championship game at the venue of one of the teams playing like it was back in the 1960s. On the other positive side, and again assuming I’m still breathing in the night air rather than being ashes over the Hudson, in February of 2014 I’ll have been retired for at least 3 months.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mojave Cross Saga gets Stranger

On Thursday May 20, a replica cross mysteriously appeared at the site of the stolen monument. The cross looked similar but was actually slightly larger.

No one knows who put the cross up but it was declared illegal by park officials, because permission to erect the cross had not been obtained, and removed.

What’s next?

I think we should reset, grant immunity to everyone if the original cross is returned and await the final court disposition.

Texas Joins the Fray

The Texas School Board just approved the ultra-conservative sponsored High School curriculum changes to emphasize Christian theology and Right Wing wishful thinking despite a storm of protest from educators and historians.

Texas, with its decision to promote lies and distortion as history because it disagrees with REAL history joins Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Kentucky in the running for the most screwed up state.

Arizona, even with its bigoted new illegal immigration policies isn't even in the running. How sad is that?

Don’t Criticize BP?

Rand Paul, the Republican Senate Candidate from Kentucky, thinks President Obama shouldn’t criticize BP for the Gulf Oil spill. Rand claims it’s “Un-American.”

WTF planet does this guy live on? Please tell me this is a joke.

It used to be simple. Kansas, by virtue of its acceptance of “magic” as scientific in its educational standards was the most screwed up state. But now Oklahoma, with its militias, Alabama, with two gubernatorial candidates fighting over who accepts evolution LESS and Kentucky, by virtue of Rand Paul, are all in the running for most screwed up state.

The Republican Party is beyond rock bottom. It’s freaking under water. How can anyone with an ounce of education or intelligence vote for any Republican candidate?

Alabama Governor's Primary

In Alabama “Judge” Roy Moore is again trying for the Republican nomination for governor. His opponent is Bradley Byrne. You remember Moore, he’s the moron that erected a 10 foot concrete statue of the 10 Commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court and then refused to take it down when ordered to do so by a federal court.

Moore launched an ad campaign attacking Byrne for accepting the Theory of Evolution. Incredibly, instead of simply ignoring Moore, Bradley responded by saying “As a Christian and as a public servant, I have never wavered in my belief that this world and everything in it is a masterpiece created by the hands of God. As a member of the Alabama Board of Education, the record clearly shows that I fought to ensure the teaching of creationism in our school textbooks. Those who attack me have distorted, twisted and misrepresented my comments and are spewing utter lies to the people of this state.”

So basically Byrne is admitting to attempting to break the law since teaching Creationism, at least as science, has been declared illegal by the Federal Courts. Of course that doesn’t keep fundies from trying.

It is a sad commentary on both the state of Alabama and the Republican Party that such a display of ignorance is considered to be a good thing in chasing elective office.

These idiots ever manage to get the upper hand in this country we’re absolutely screwed.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mojave Cross Stolen

Two weeks after the Supreme Court decided that the Mojave Desert war memorial to WW I veterans, consisting of a white metal cross, did not violate the Separation of Church and State, the cross disappeared.

The following day an anonymous letter arrived at the Barstow Desert Dispatch with an explanation as to why the cross was stolen as follows:

“1. The cross in question was not vandalized. It was simply moved. This was done lovingly and with great care.

2. The cross has been carefully preserved. It has not been destroyed as many have assumed.

3. I am a Veteran.

4. A small non-sectarian monument was brought to place at the site but technical difficulties prevented this from happening at the time the cross was moved to its new location.

5. The cross was erected illegally on public land in 1998 by a private individual named Henry Sandoz. Since then the government has actively worked to promote the continued existence of the cross, even as it excluded other monuments from differing religions. This favoritism and exclusion clearly violates the establishment clause of the US Constitution.

6. Anthony Kennedy desecrated and marginalized the memory and sacrifice of all those non-Christians that died in WWI when he wrote: 'Here one Latin cross in the desert evokes far more than religion. It evokes thousands of small crosses in foreign fields marking the graves of Americans who fell in battles — battles whose tragedies are compounded if the fallen are forgotten.' The irony and tragedy of that statement is unique.

7. Justice Kennedy's words in particular and others like them from the other Justices caused me to act.

8. At the time of its removal there was nothing to identify the cross as a memorial of any kind, and the simple fact of the matter is that the only thing it represented was an oddly placed tribute to Christ. This cross evoked nothing of the sort that Justice Kennedy writes of, it was in the end simply a cross in the desert.

9. Discrimination in any form is intolerable, as is hatred.

10. Discrimination or hatred based upon religion should be despised by all Americans, and offering that this event was caused by hatred or malice is simply ignorance of the actual intent.

11. Despite what many people are saying, this act was definitively not anti-Christian. It was instead anti-discrimination. If this act was anti-Christian, the cross would not have been cared for so reverently. An anti-Christian response would have been to simply destroy the cross and leave the pieces in the desert.

12. We as a nation need to change the dialogue and stop pretending that this is about a war memorial. If it is a memorial, then we need to stop arguing about the cross and instead place a proper memorial on that site, one that respects Christians and non-Christians alike, and one that is actually recognizable as a war memorial.

13. If an appropriate and permanent non-sectarian memorial is placed at the site the cross will be immediately returned to Mr. Sandoz.

14. Alternatively, if a place can be found that memorializes the Christian Veterans of WWI that is not on public land the Cross will promptly be forwarded with care and reverence for installation at the private site.

15. In short this has happened because as Abraham Lincoln said: 'To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men.' Perhaps this was an inappropriate form of protest if so I humbly request your forgiveness and understanding for the actions that I have taken here."

While I agree with the sentiments, I am uncertain of the wisdom of the action. I especially agree with the smack in the face awarded specifically to Justice Kennedy. I expect a Christian centric outlook from Scalia, Thomas, Roberts and Alito, but Kennedy should know better.

Granted, the current Supreme Court appears to have forgotten its fundamental responsibility to protect the weak from the strong and the minority from the tyranny of the majority.

In doing so it has failed its obligation to American Democracy and the result is that people feel compelled to act outside the law to obtain justice. As citizens we are obligated to respect and uphold the rule of law unless that rule of law degrades into tyranny. At that point we are absolved of that obligation.

Some of the recent decisions of the Supreme Court, including eliminating campaign spending rules for corporations and the Mojave Cross decision, are bad decisions, but I'm not sure I would label them tyranny.

Still, it’s not a bad idea to remind our government, and that includes the Supreme Court, that:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The so-called Tea Party is missing an opportunity here. They really have no horse in the "moral values" race. They are first and foremost a financial issues movement. If they could bring themselves to side with the Left on "moral values" things might get interesting. The Left could probably be persuaded to support budget reform and debt reduction as long as that doesn't mean throwing minorites and poor folks under the bus.

The problem with the Tea Party is it smacks too much of a Right Wing head up your ass kind of viewpoint and the real financial issues facing the country are getting lost in the rhetorical nonsense.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Brush with the American Medical System

My wife fell. She fell on her way into the school where she teaches. Once it became obvious that she couldn’t get up they called the local police who in turn called for an ambulance.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, she called me at work on her cell phone. It took me a minute or two to absorb what was happening, but once I caught on, I told her I would meet her at the hospital. I fired off an e-mail to people who needed to know I was leaving and scooted out the door.

She was on her way to Valley Hospital in Ridgewood New Jersey and I managed to arrive about a half hour after I left work. I decided to pass on the “Free Emergency Room Valet Parking” (I kid you not), found a parking space in the rather crowded lot and made my way toward the Emergency Room entrance.

On the way I’m scouting out where I can bring my car later to limit how far she has to walk since I’m figuring she’s bound to be a bit sore. Uh-huh, little did I know.

The Emergency Room’s small waiting area was completely empty. I asked the lady behind the window where I could find my wife and she directed me to room 18.

Room 18 was empty. A nurse asked if I was looking for my wife and when I answered yes, she informed me she was being X-Rayed and I should wait there. While I was waiting a hospital administration type showed up and started taking down vital information such as verifying our insurance coverage.

The very first question she asked me was what synagogue we attended and my eyes almost popped out of my head. All I could think to say was “excuse me?” Then I remembered my wife would probably say Jewish if someone asked her religion.

In the middle of this they wheeled my wife back in and I got further details on what happened. While we were talking a nurse came in and asked if my wife wanted something for pain and my wife declined.

In about fifteen minutes the doctor on call came in and informed my wife that she had broken her hip. The look on both our faces must have been classic because that was about the last thing either of us expected to hear.

Up until now the process had been sort of laid back, but now things went into high gear.

1. A series of pre-admission tests were administered including an electro-cardiogram and a blood pressure test.
2. Someone showed up to take blood.
3. Someone came in to collect another series of information related to medical history, prescriptions being taken and a whole bunch of other stuff.
4. My wife’s primary care physician was notified.
5. The nurse attached an intravenous bag
6. An orthopedic surgeon on call was recommended and accepted.
7. A hospital case worker showed up to explain the intricacies associated with Worker’s Compensation because the accident had occurred on school grounds.
8. We found out that there would probably be weeks of rehabilitation required.
9. The surgeon ordered a cat scan to better gauge the extent of the damage.
10. The cat scan was duly performed.
11. A temporary spare bed was located and my wife was transferred upstairs.
12. The nurse on duty collected another bunch of information and offered my wife something for pain which my wife declined.
13. The surgeon showed up and explained the situation and what needed to be done.
14. The surgeon put her on the operating room schedule as sort of a stand by passenger. The surgery would be performed as soon as an opening on the operating room schedule allowed but not until at least 8 hours had passed since she had eaten breakfast and my wife’s primary care physician had certified she was healthy enough for surgery. That meant sometime that evening.
15. The doctor covering for my wife’s primary care physician showed up, got the information on what happened, examined my wife and certified her as healthy enough for surgery.

By the time all of the above had transpired it was about 2 PM. Now it was simply a matter of waiting for the call to go down to the operating room. Nurses or aids popped in and out every once in a while but basically it was just wait.

Around 6:30 PM word came to bring my wife downstairs. I tagged along behind carrying assorted debris such as her clothes and pocket book. I have it on good authority that I looked just charming with her purple handbag slung over my shoulder and banging up against my purple shirt.

Outside the operating room we got information from the anesthesiologist (would you believe I spelled that right the first time? I’m impressed with myself) and the surgeon took down my cell phone number as they proceeded to kick me out for the next three hours.

I went home; let the daughters know what had happened and, along with my youngest daughter, headed back to the hospital after wolfing down a dinner of pizza. On the way we got a call from the surgeon that everything went ok and that she would be in recovery for about another 45 minutes or so.

At the hospital they directed us to the waiting room on the orthopedic floor.

When my wife arrived she was groggy and nauseous. Nurses and aids hovered around her doing what they could. Later she would tell me that she had only the vaguest recollections of that evening but she was aware that I and my daughter were there. Eventually she fell asleep and we went home until the next day.

That was actually a week ago. Since the accident occurred on school grounds it was in fact a Worker’s Compensation issue and the hospital case manager has handled just about everything.

My wife spent three nights in the hospital and then was transferred to a rehabilitation center. Worker’s Compensation has approved a two week stay. Hopefully it will take less time than that. I’m not sure what happens if she needs more time but there is also a case manager at the rehabilitation center that strikes me as very competent and up to speed on how to play the system.

To further complicate the issue my youngest daughter is graduating with her Master’s Degree at right about the end of those two weeks. My wife is adamant that she will go to that graduation. Exactly how we’re going to pull that off is a little unclear but we’ll work something out.

At the moment my wife can hobble around using a walker but spends most of the day in a wheel chair. I have no idea how she’s ever going to get to where she was. It was her right hip that she fractured and she needs that leg to drive.

The big problem at the moment is negotiating stairs and we have stairs all over the place. Our house is called a split colonial. You enter into a foyer area with what we call a playroom straight ahead with a short hallway to a powder room and the laundry room. You then go down 5 steps to the family, room where the main TV is, or up 6 steps to the living room, kitchen, dining room and exit to the deck. There are then another 7 steps to the bedrooms. Our shower is attached to our bedroom. So she has to be able to negotiate steps, but so far this hasn’t gone well.

None of the levels have everything. The main level would probably be the best center of operations as it has access to food, a convertible bed, the main computer and the outside but she would still have to negotiate up or down for the bathroom and showering and I’d probably have to get a TV in there somewhere. I also think I need additional railings on the stairs and I’m not exactly sure how to work that out.

So far, I have no complaints about the way things have been handled. This isn’t terribly surprising because we’re talking about upper middle class Bergen County here. One of the surgeon’s assistants has a child in first grade in the school where my wife teaches 2nd grade. The surgeon told me he said they had to do a good job because my wife might be his kid’s teacher next year. Two of the physical therapists at the rehabilitation center are from town and know my wife as well.

So basically we’re in good hands and, at least so far, I've been reasonably impressed with the competence of just about everyone we've encountered.

The concern is what happens from here. It’s incredible how your life can change in what amounts to a blink of an eye. It could be a lot worse so we’ll have to just plug away. More on this in the future I’m sure.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Elena Kagan

President Obama has nominated Elena Kagan, the current Solicitor General and ex-Dean of Harvard Law School to replace Justice Stevens on the Supreme Court.

First of all, to those fools that are saying she’s not qualified, please get serious. She was the Dean of Harvard Law School for crying out loud. She’s knows the law even if she’s never been a sitting judge. A mix of theory and practice is always a good idea.

Other than that, I don’t know. My immediate reaction was she looks like a lady dwarf from World of Warcraft. How the hell can you be that short?

Then there is the question of her sexual orientation.

I assume the question comes up simply because she’s unmarried rather than due to any actual evidence that she might be gay. At the risk of being boorish, someone with Kagan’s physical attributes isn’t exactly going to have to beat off guys with a stick so I wouldn’t read too much into the fact she’s single.

Still, it would be sort of neat if after her confirmation she came out of the closet. It might even be neater if she did it before her confirmation. That would be a whole lot of fun.

The reality is she’s not gay and she is eminently qualified to sit on the Supreme Court bench. I’d like to know a little bit more about her position on the key issues but, she’s Jewish so it’s not very likely she’ll side with the Christian Right; she survived Harvard so it’s unlikely she’s got too many right wing ideas and Obama picked her so she’s probably not a flaming pink liberal either although I’m willing to bet she’s a member of the ACLU.

My thinking is that she’s a left of center legal scholar with a gift for convincing people to see things her way. If that’s so, she might well be the perfect pick.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Facts and the Public Arena

I just read an editorial by Cynthia Tucker entitled “Wild Assertions in Public Arena Trump Demonstrable Facts.”

My question to Cynthia is “You just noticed this?”

With Fox News, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin continually given highly visible platforms from which to spew their nonsense, how could it be any different?

I’m not talking about censorship here; I’m talking about the difference between facts and opinion. Feel free to express your opinion but please don’t back it up with made up facts, wishful thinking and nonsense assertions.

The eye opening example that Tucker gives is a question to Tea Party founder Judson Phillips as to whether he would admit that taxes have actually gone down for the vast majority of Americans under the Obama administration. He answer was “No,” we would not.

I had a similar conversation with a right winger and told him to check the math. His response was that mathematics, like statistics, can be made to lie.

I beg to differ. Mathematics cannot lie. It is the one guaranteed absolute truth. It is the only domain in which something can be proven beyond all doubt. This is not opinion; this is simple fact.

How can you reason with people who simply want to believe what they want to believe and are going to ignore all evidence to the contrary?

Taking a quick look at some of the comments associated with Tucker’s editorial simply further demonstrates her point. There are far too many people who are simply going to ignore any and all arguments which contradict what they have decided to believe. Their minds are closed and can’t be opened.

To make matters worse, more often than not they have been convinced by unfounded rhetoric which has simply been repeated loudly and often. The electorate is no longer making decisions based upon knowledge but upon nonsense.

Democracy ceases to function when the electorate is no longer capable of deciding issues based upon reality. I’m watching American Democracy fail. We are absolutely screwed.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Oh Well

There are times when you just throw your hands up into the air and say “oh well.”

The Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s decision to issue state seal pins to his staff with the goddess Virtue’s left breast covered rather than exposed is one of those times.

After the ridicule started Cuccinelli claimed he just wanted to do something a little different and was only joking when he talked about “Virtue being more virtuous in her more modest clothing.”

Given that Cuccinelli is slightly to the right of James Dobson I don’t believe a word of his later claim. He’s just another Conservative Republican fool.

When will the American electorate wise up to this crap and dismiss people who would appoint someone like Cuccinelli to the post of Attorney General out of hand?